UMMS Affiliation

Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems; UMass Metabolic Network

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Microbiology | Molecular Biology | Structural Biology


Monitoring the environment with serine/threonine protein kinases is critical for growth and survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a devastating human pathogen. Protein kinase B (PknB) is a transmembrane serine/threonine protein kinase that acts as an essential regulator of mycobacterial growth and division. The PknB extracellular domain (ECD) consists of four repeats homologous to penicillin-binding protein and serine/threonine kinase associated (PASTA) domains, and binds fragments of peptidoglycan. These properties suggest that PknB activity is modulated by ECD binding to peptidoglycan substructures, however, the molecular mechanisms underpinning PknB regulation remain unclear. In this study, we report structural and genetic characterization of the PknB ECD. We determined the crystal structures of overlapping ECD fragments at near atomic resolution, built a model of the full ECD, and discovered a region on the C-terminal PASTA domain that has the properties of a ligand-binding site. Hydrophobic interaction between this surface and a bound molecule of citrate was observed in a crystal structure. Our genetic analyses in M. tuberculosis showed that nonfunctional alleles were produced either by deletion of any of single PASTA domain or by mutation of individual conserved residues lining the putative ligand-binding surface of the C-terminal PASTA repeat. These results define two distinct structural features necessary for PknB signal transduction, a fully extended ECD and a conserved, membrane-distal putative ligand-binding site.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis, PASTA domain, bacterial genetics, crystal structure, peptidoglycan, receptor protein serine/threonine kinase

Rights and Permissions

Publisher PDF posted after 12 months as allowed by the publisher's author rights policy at

DOI of Published Version



J Biol Chem. 2016 Oct 28;291(44):22961-22969. Epub 2016 Sep 6. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of biological chemistry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID




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